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  • A fifth of its clients stopped smoking during South Africa’s nationwide lockdown, an FNB Life report shows.
  • The report is based on underwriting questionnaires conducted before, during and after lockdown.
  • There was, however, a slight increase in the number of customers who identified as smokers when the country moved to level 2.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider South Africa.

A fifth of its clients quit smoking during South Africa’s nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, says FNB Life, the life insurance division of FNB. 

Cigarette sales were banned for more than 140 days from the start of lockdown on March 27, to 17 August. 

Cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma contended that there were several studies showing a link between smoking and bad cases of Covid-19. At the time of the ban, she also expressed the hope that the temporary cigarette prohibition should see a lot of South Africans quit for good, especially young and poor people.

Chief Executive of FNB Life, Lee Bromfield, says the report is based on feedback from monitored underwriting questionnaires that were conduct with potential life insurance customers who bank with FNB. Clients declared their smoking status before, during and after lockdown. 

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“The trend we’ve seen over the lockdown is certainly in contrast to what we’ve observed over the years. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen a 20 – 22% increase in the number of people who declared themselves as smokers, and we often see a dip only in January presumably due to people’s New Year’s resolutions. 

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“Despite the 18% drop over the course of lockdown, there was a slight increase in the number of customers who identify as smokers when the country moved to level 2 of the national lockdown,” says Bromfield.  

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Clients are encouraged to update their policies when making big lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking, or undergoing certain medical procedures.

While the impact of every lifestyle change does not guarantee a premium reduction or increase, it can help you to have a seamless claims process. 

“It is important to stress that full disclosure is highly crucial when one takes up life insurance. Although it might still be early days to predict what the continued trend will look like going forward, customers also need to consider the improved health benefits that can lead to lowered medical costs and insurance premiums based on their risk profile,” adds Bromfield.

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